In any geologic application, noisy data are sources of consternation for researchers, inhibiting interpretability and marring images with unsightly and unrealistic artifacts. Filtering is the typical solution to dealing with noisy data. However, filtering commonly suffers from ad hoc (i.e., uncalibrated, ungoverned) application. We present here an alternative to filtering: a newly developed method for correcting noise in data by finding the “best” value given available information. The motivating rationale is that data points that are close to each other in space cannot differ by “too much,” where “too much” is governed by the field covariance. Data with large uncertainties will frequently violate this condition and therefore ought to be corrected, or “resampled.” Our solution for resampling is determined by the maximum of the a posteriori density function defined by the intersection of (1) the data error probability density function (pdf) and (2) the conditional pdf, determined by the geostatistical kriging algorithm applied to proximal data values. A maximum a posteriori solution can be computed sequentially going through all the data, but the solution depends on the order in which the data are examined. We approximate the global a posteriori solution by randomizing this order and taking the average. A test with a synthetic data set sampled from a known field demonstrates quantitatively and qualitatively the improvement provided by the maximum a posteriori resampling algorithm. The method is also applied to three marine geology/geophysics data examples, demonstrating the viability of the method for diverse applications: (1) three generations of bathymetric data on the New Jersey shelf with disparate data uncertainties; (2) mean grain size data from the Adriatic Sea, which is a combination of both analytic (low uncertainty) and word-based (higher uncertainty) sources; and (3) side-scan backscatter data from the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory which are, as is typical for such data, affected by speckle noise. Compared to filtering, maximum a posteriori resampling provides an objective and optimal method for reducing noise, and better preservation of the statistical properties of the sampled field. The primary disadvantage is that maximum a posteriori resampling is a computationally expensive procedure.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems


7, issue 8



Publisher Place

Washington DC, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article


Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.